13th October 2015

Letter from the Pastor

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Psalm 19v1

The journey from Coedpoeth to Ruthin is one I know well; every school day I drive Christopher & Bomi through the beautiful Denbighshire countryside before dropping them off and heading home, when it is my usual practice to turn on the news – Radio 4’s Today program. Space, particularly Mars, is very much in the headlines these days, with the claimed discovery of running water on the Red planet. Consequently the other morning the Today program had invited one Dr. Seth Shostak on to the air to give an expert opinion on these matters. For those, like myself, who are unfamiliar with Dr. Shostak – he is the head of SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, in layman’s language) – this is a US group that look for aliens! According to the recent news they have just received $100 million donation and have already spent 10’s of millions of dollars engaging in this search across the stars – remarkable sums of money considering the multitudes of malnourished and starving folk in the world (upon earth!) today – but I digress!
Commenting upon the possibility of this alleged running water supporting life on the Red Planet – he made the point, if this were so, then we should expect to find life all over the universe – and this would effectively prove, in his view, that ‘life is not a miracle’, but rather ‘a cosmic infection’. These words, I believe, are most revealing, for they seem to capture the underlying agenda and motive behind such organisations, namely to prove that all life happened by chance here upon earth … and thus it could and should have happened all over the universe – again by chance. It was not the work of an Almighty creating God at all; it was ‘not a miracle’, but a ‘cosmic infection’, using Dr. Shostak’s expression.
All around us, in the media, in high places of power, in the classroom, the unified voice accords with Dr. Shostak’s hope, that life is all one great accident. Somehow inanimate matter became animate – the dead elements in nature once upon a time, in a galaxy far away – or not so far away – were zapped out of nowhere and thus life began. The Theory of evolution is no longer asserted or taught – rather it is put forward as unquestionable fact, despite many top scientists recognising that the theory as yet to be anything like proved.
Even some, even many, in the professing church have been swept along on this tide – seeking to harmonise the shifting sands of scientific ‘discovery’ with the unchanging rock of God’s Word, the Bible. But a cursory glance at the opening chapter of Scripture shows the absolute impossibility of this: Genesis 1 speaks of light on the 1st day of history, plant life on the 3rd day … but the sun, moon and stars were not created until day 4. It was this order which caused me to see, 3 decades ago, that the theory of evolution could never blend with the Creation account of the Bible. If one was true the other was false; both could not be accurate: just extending the ‘days’ in Genesis into vast eons of time could not do the trick here!
So that left me with a choice: the secular theory of evolution – life through ‘cosmic infection’; or the Bible’s account, that life and the universe are the handiwork of God Himself – ‘life is a miracle’. This choice is often put forth as one between ‘religion and science’, but I question whether that indeed is the case. All true science is about observation: we observe the experiment in the chemistry class; we can put the leaf under the microscope in Biology; we can observe changes over long periods of time in various spheres within nature. But as to events which allegedly took place billions of years ago, who has observed these? Evolution is indeed a theory, not a fact … It is, I believe, not even true science.
From my writing in this way, it will already have become very clear to you, the choice I did make. If the Bible is truly God’s inspired and infallible Word, how can it be in error, on any matter. So when it speaks of ‘in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is’ it must be correct; when it boldly declares ‘By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth’, again it does not lie to us! After all the LORD God was there!
Also, when I considered the vastness of the universe on the one hand and the wonderful ordered intricacies of life upon earth on the other, how could such be anything less than the product of an Intelligence and power way beyond our ken. Certainly such things could never be the product of random and chance occurrences, as evolution asserts.
The effect of my choice to believe God’s Word in this matter is well-captured by the Psalmist in the text above Ps 19v1: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.’ Even as the apostle Paul writes in Rom. 1v20: ‘the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.’ I suddenly began to view the wonders of nature with a new eye – an eye that marvelled in the sheer brilliance of the God who had brought them into being. To quote the hymn writer George Wade Robinson (1838-77):-
Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green,
Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen,
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.
I wonder, dear reader, if this echoes your own experience. Will you believe in life through ‘cosmic infection’, or through the mighty gracious miracle of an all wise, all powerful loving God?

Pastor Paul Ackerley